Friday, December 19, 2014

Jeb Bush 2016 Exploration Could Pressure Christie to Nail Down Donor Support if He Wants to Run

Jeb Bush’s move to actively explore a 2016 White House bid is likely to complicate the path for fellow Republican Chris Christie and pressure the New Jersey governor to shore up donor support as he considers his own campaign.
Mr. Christie has spoken with a range of donors in recent weeks, according to people familiar with his conversations, among them billionaire backer Ken Langone. Mr. Christie has indicated in those talks that Mr. Bush’s entry alone wouldn’t keep him from the race, those people said.
The second-term governor hasn’t been as overt about hiring potential campaign staff as some other possible 2016 GOP contenders. But some political analysts said Mr. Christie should quickly move to convince senior staff and top donors that he is serious, or risk losing their support to Mr. Bush, a former Florida governor who is expected to appeal to a similar part of the electorate.
“The pace is going to pick up,” said Kevin Madden, a senior adviser to Mitt Romney ’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns. “The top donors and the top staff want to be the first on the team. You’re going to see some urgency.”
Mr. Christie’s financial backers and political supporters play down Mr. Bush’s influence on Mr. Christie’s thinking and say they expected Mr. Bush to jump into the race, though maybe not to signal this soon that he was likely to do so.
“I don’t think whatever decision Bush makes is going to have any influence on Gov. Christie. If he’s going to run, he’ll do it, notwithstanding,” said Mr. Langone, a co-founder of Home Depot Inc. Jerry Langer, a prominent New Jersey donor for Mr. Christie, said he is firmly behind the governor, who should make a decision when he desires.
Mr. Christie’s office and his political advisers declined to comment or didn’t respond to requests for comment Wednesday. The governor has previously said he would make a decision in early 2015.
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